Ornstein, Abraham Frederick

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ORNSTEIN, ABRAHAM FREDERICK (1836–1895), London-born pioneer minister in Australia and South Africa. (His surname is sometimes spelled "Ornstien.") After serving the Melbourne Hebrew congregation (1866–75) and being principal of Aria College for training Jewish ministers in Portsmouth, England, Ornstein went to Cape Town in 1882 and headed the congregation there for 13 years. He was particularly interested in education. His efforts to establish a Jewish public school in Cape Town did not meet with enough support, so in 1884 he started a private "Collegiate School" for Jewish boys, which provided both Jewish and general education. Its boarding house also accepted girls from other schools in town. Ornstein ran the school successfully. It closed down after his death. Despite his abilities and sense of dedication, his ministry was marred by a number of controversies resulting from his somewhat inflexible personality, and especially from the clash between his "English" outlook and that of the Eastern European immigrants who were arriving at the Cape in increasing numbers.


L. Herrman, History of the Jews in South Africa (1935), 234, 257–66, 269; G. Saron and L. Hotz, The Jews in South Africa (1955), 23–26, 28–31, 124; I. Abrahams, The Birth of a Community (1955), index. add. bibliography: H.L. Rubinstein, Australia I, 256–57; M. Turnbull, "Rev. Abraham Ornstien [sic]," in: Australian Jewish Historical Society Journal, xii (1993–95), 443–66.

[Lewis Sowden]